NEOS 2022

September 8th, one day left in which to transform the Studio at Mill Farm into a space fit for visitors.

Jeni Watson, Sarah Franklin and myself will be showing drawings and many other painted works.

In 1977 I went to art college with Jeni at Farnham in Surrey, we were not in the same faculty, but shared the same accomodation. (many years ago) – We have since painted together in different locations, with Sarah also in the more recent years. We join together now to show some of our sketches and paintings. Responses to the North Cornish coastline, explorations on Lewis and Harris, Morecombe Bay, Kishorn and Dunoon. From lavender fields in France, to quiet rural locations in Aberdeenshire.

Rain or shine, warm or chill – sketching outdoors and transforming into finished works in our homes or studios.

Painting: The Sunlit Garden.

We have enjoyed sharing times working together and now relish the opportunity to show what we have made of it.

Open Studio at Mill Farm, AB51 5NY from Saturday 9th September until Sunday 19th September. For details check the website or grab a Neos catalogue.


After such a sultry summer, its time to get cracking. Aberdeen Art Fair needs some good work to showcase The Aberdeen Artist Society – I am organising the society stand, so it will be other people’s work, to encompass the variety and depth of creative talent in and around the city.

Then I need to focus on transforming my studio from a place of chaos and delight – to a welcoming space for the public. Clean and repair walls, sweep, scrub, hang. And before that, my annual bonfire.

So I really don’t have time to be writing!

Preparation, Collaboration, Celebration.

I became a mother in law this weekend and I couldn’t be happier. The previous weekend I was mother hen on the girls trip away. How good is that? To be invited to join in the party.

No illusions, I wasn’t going to put a dampener on preceeding but didn’t ever think I would be in a party of ladies going through the airport wearing pink sashes preclaiming to all…

I took my sketchbook and pencil and decided my mission was to try and capture the charactors onboard for the event.

It was a privilege to be included. Adding to the joyous emotional mix. I had visited Sienna with my father 25 years ago…

The girls were tolerant but didn’t sit for me, I grabbed them in moments when they stood or sat for a while.

The collaborative efforts continued on our return when the serious business of putting colour and joy to the wedding ensued. Many offered their gardens to be raided.

Continue reading “Preparation, Collaboration, Celebration.”

Aberdeen Artists Society – Exhibition

The process of viewing artwork submissions, selecting and placing works for the AAS Open Exhibition at Aberdeen Art Gallery is complete

The gallery staff have been busy hanging the works and making ready for the Judges who will be in the gallery space on Saturday to make their choices for prizes. It has been such a privilege, but really great fun to be involved.

The exhibition is opening next week on Saturday 16th. Arthur Watson, former president of the RSA will open proceedings with invited guests, artists, prize giving, bagpipes and Aurora string quartet. The public will have free access to the exhibition from early afternoon.

I almost can not believe it is actually happening. Fantastic team – the members of AAS Council – with the supreme effort coming from Donnie Ross. Society President extraordinary.

Top Floor AAG
The Road Most Travelled. Watercolour.

It looks Marvellous!!!

All About Colour

All About Colour…

The work was created as a selfish pleasure, an excuse to tip out all my tubes of watercolour, sort them into colour friends and then paint each one on a piece of white paper. It was lovely to do, like dead heading Geums and Pansies.

It took me a happy couple of hours and looked so inviting once it was done.

Colour, water colour paint, simply magic.


I mostly avoid commissions.

It should be a good thing. To be asked to produce a piece of work – to agree a price, discuss the content. It could be inspiring.

Possibly someone has seen previous work and wishes something similar and there begins the ambiguity, the gap between what the commissioner thinks they are asking and paying for, and what the commissioned undertakes to deliver. To simply repeat a piece is really not simple and is also soul destroying dull.

It is scary and for what ever reason historically, I’m really bad at it. Breathing life into a commission is so different from my usual practice – like lighting someone elses fire. It takes a professionalism and understanding of working process that I don’t have. There is a random, almost chaotic element to my my own creative ways – commision requires a diciplin and planning that my indulgent ways have not developed.

So why am I spending my time on this one now?

The commision.

I took the work, it was a beautiful image and I could see my way to develop it in two slightly differing ways. This would free me from prescriptive copying, but also give the commissioner a choice.

One with foliage one without.

The figure was tricky in two aspects. The photo – back lit, no detail, she looked naked, wbich was actually a bit uncomfortable from behind. So I resolved to hint at a costume. Also the right shoulder a really odd shape… I needed to make that more believable. Photos may be ‘right’ but a painting needs to work better than that.

I enjoy the loose working, finding the composition, shifting colours and shapes. The photo was pretty much black and white, so I chose a mininal palette of burnt umber, burnt scienna, ultramarine, turquise, lemon, ochre, and a wee bit of cadmium red. – white. I could mix deep rich greys.

I am lured towards working on canvas, and I do think in this case it has added authority, but paper is where I feel more at home. I understand what I can do on paper. How far I can push it… I am a bit too respectful of canvas, I think it inhibits and bullies me.

I feel both paintings have distinct merits I am pleased with the isolation and distance in the one on canvas (top) and the rich colours and intimate feel of the one on paper (bottom) +

It’s up to the commissioner to decide…

Entering Open Exhibition…

Is pride and pain ridden. My personal rule is: submit work that i am really lifted and surprised by. Work where elements have combined and it feels like something magical happened. Something beyond the norm. Something I want to share. Then if it doesn’t get accepted, remember, the work hasn’t changed, but it wasn’t what ‘ they’ were looking for.

I also remind myself that if the judges are good and accept my work, they are still good even when they don’t. They can’t suddenly become idiots eh?

Getting work accepted is a great feeling, but the work doesn’t become rubbish if its not accepted. Which is why I have to feel confidence in it. Any doubt, then its better not to enter it in the first place.

I chose my work carefully and don’t submit it to humiliation. Like a ballet dancer might when gliding into a rave. So how do I feel about the next open show?

I’ll let you know…

Collage – a friend to composition.

At what ever stage you feel you are in the creative journey, collage is good practice, an aid to strong composition.

The clunky pieces are placed and fitted together without the hampering of detail. A desire to make good is overridden by the compositional bias. Placing a piece of the jigsaw and seeing it is sound… Or not.

Cut and paste the pieces, asses the tones and replace if they don’t read well.

We tore up magazines stealing from their pages a range of textures and tones – avoiding colour, though allowing it to creap in through the side door.

A tonal sketch helped the process… But then I believe sketches usually underpin our better resolved works.

Sketch to collage to paint. Do, Undo, Redo. If it’s worth doing you will find the time.

When the stars align.

The nights have been cold, the days bright blue and sunny. More frosts in April this year than ever before on record – thats weather for you!

An orienteers planning meeting gave us ligitimacy to travel to the centre of Scotland, yes really… Its marked by a huge rock on a site just south of Newtonmore, about half a mile from where we parked the van. The river Spey ran slowly, lazilly enough to hide its direction of flow: through the valley below – and snow is still visible on the mountain tops.

The slight nippet breeze confused the rivers flow – making it appear right to left, but debris in the trees disguarded by the winter floods assured of occasionalf fast flow of left to right.

I lay on the grass beside the river. Warmed by the sun and cooled by the sharp breeze. Then listening, watching and painting. Weighing up the irrational and rational internal discussion. The water, dark and deeply enticing, the awareness of chill, snowmelt. Never disappointing, but still needing an inner conviction. Checking resolve. Entry and exit. So I swam.

I lay listening – birds unaware of being heard, the river, motorbikes on the road nearly a mile away, no planes. I sat drawing. Washing being placed on a line. A task familier to so many, made less drudgery by its setting, in the valley below the mountains.